Iranian officials appear to be blaming the United States for a terrorist attack Wednesday in Tehran that was already claimed by the Islamic State terrorist organization.
On Wednesday, a combination of suicide bombers and gunmen stormed Iran’s parliament and a Tehran shrine dedicated to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, killing a dozen people and injuring over 40 more.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News Agency. It is believed to be the first successful attack carried out by the jihadi group inside the Shiite state. The assault ended Wednesday when Iranian security forces neutralized the four attackers in the parliament, according to media reports.
Following the attack, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, addressed his councilmen, reportedly using his podium to downplay the events as a “minor issue.”
But what came next may come as a shock to Westerners.
At the end of his speech, fellow members of parliament rose up and chanted, “Death To America.”
— potkin azarmehr (@potkazar) June 7, 2017
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) June 7, 2017
According to Fars News, the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence said the Saudis and the U.S. had ordered a terrorist attack in Tehran and that the IRGC will take revenge on both terrorists and those who ordered it. The IRGC is also vowing revenge, pointing to possible American involvement.
— Saeed Ghasseminejad (@SGhasseminejad) June 7, 2017
— Abas Aslani (@AbasAslani) June 7, 2017
While the "Death To America" phrase is commonly heard after Friday prayers among the nation’s Islamic hardliners, it should be noted that top Iranian leadership has often trafficked in conspiracy theories regarding the creation of ISIS.
This death chant may have had nothing to do with their hatred of the West but, instead, an allegation. Could Iranians possibly believe that the United States of America was behind the attack in Tehran?
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate authority in Iran, has long contended that the U.S. is not only responsible for creating ISIS, but actively helps the group plot its worldwide terror campaign. Khamenei claims the U.S. and “Zionists” created ISIS to sow discord in the Muslim world.
In 2014, Khamenei told an audience of clerics that they have “evidence” of America inventing ISIS. “There is no doubt that these movements are created by Western powers and their regional agents,” he said.
In a 2015 speech, Khamenei claimed: “The present US officials are against the principles of Islam and, unlike their statements, they are after fomenting differences among Muslims, and its example is creating terrorist groups like [ISIS].”
Additionally, the supreme leader’s office has used his social media accounts to actively promote these views.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 7, 2017
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 3, 2016
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 25, 2016
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) April 12, 2016
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 23, 2015
The New York Times, one of the few Western outlets that operates in Tehran, asserts that “most Iranians” believe ISIS to be an American invention.
“[T]he claim that ISIS is a creation of the Obama administration has gained wide traction here,” NYT reporter Thomas Erdbrink wrote in 2014. “From the Iranian viewpoint, shaped by their spotty exposure to Western culture, analysts say, creating a terrorist organization opposed to Iranian interests is the obvious thing for a superpower to do.”